WILL Releases “Pope’s Fallacy”, a Primer on Wisconsin K-12 Education Finance
Opponents of education reform misrepresent official DPI memo, data
July 21, 2015, Milwaukee, WI – In response to critics of education reform, who regularly cite data provided by Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty has released a policy brief correcting common misunderstandings of how Wisconsin K-12 education finance works and provides a more complete and accurate perspective on the effects of the recent biennial budget on general school aids.
According to a recent memo by Rep. Sondy Pope, “School aid being held at zero will cause over half of our school districts to lose funding, and that is plainly unacceptable… Public education funding in our state is on a dangerous trend. Whether it’s cutting resources to public schools… leeching money off public education for unaccountable voucher programs, or any of the other ludicrous proposals for public education in this budget.” Unfortunately, statements such as these deflect attention from policy discussions that Wisconsin citizens should be having. Rep. Pope’s statement reflects common but fundamental misunderstandings about how school funding works.
The report concludes, “[W]here public spending has increased for decades, […] it has tapered off recently. A recent analysis by WILL could not find a significant link between changes in spending and corresponding changes in student outcomes that included ACT scores, college readiness, graduation, and WKCE proficiency. It is unlikely that the mere act of increasing spending will have any material effect on what truly matters. Rather, education policy in Wisconsin would be better served by placing more focus on how dollars are spent on education.”
The policy brief is available here.